Bank settles in embezzlement case
An American Savings employee was accused of swindling an elderly customer of $900,000
A 91-year-old woman who alleged in a lawsuit she had more than $900,000 embezzled by a former American Saving Bank employee in 2004 and 2005 has reached an out-of-court settlement with the financial institution.
Lyle Hosoda, attorney for the woman, Ada Lim, said in a statement yesterday that the specific terms of the agreement would not be disclosed.
"Ms. Lim recognizes that this was a unique situation and both parties are fully satisfied that the settlement is both amicable and fair," Hosoda said. "We appreciate the bank's willingness to put this matter to rest and will have no further comment on it."
However, a related whistleblower lawsuit filed against the bank by former security director Bert Corneil is still proceeding toward trial. That lawsuit -- filed on August 2, the same day as the Lim case -- alleges that the bank repeatedly tried to coerce Corneil to conform and recharacterize reported losses by fraud as "potential losses" to keep the bank's total losses down.
Corneil, a former Honolulu police officer, alleges in his suit that the bank started harassing him and stripped him of his authority because he was reporting fraudulent losses -- involving Lim and others -- to state and federal authorities.
"I hope they took care of Mrs. Lim and, if she is satisfied, that's fine," said John Perkin, attorney for Corneil. "Our case proceeds as anticipated."
Perkin added that he has had no settlement talks with the bank.
Craig Togami, American Savings' vice president of marketing and communications, said the bank was pleased to resolve the Lim case "fairly and amicably."
"While we cannot discuss specific terms of the agreement, we can say that both parties are completely satisified with the settlement and we appreciate her readiness to put this matter to rest," Togami said.
Togami said the bank is not commenting on the status of the Corneil case at this time. A previous statement that American Savings filed with state Circuit Court described Corneil as "disgruntled former employee" who was not selected to head a newly reorganized and expanded security department in 2004.
Lim alleged in her suit that bank employee Marylin De Motta, a former operations supervisor and assistant branch manager, had embezzled more than $900,000 from her and her son, William.
De Motta allegedly wrote checks drawn on the Lims' trust account, bought an apartment using $110,000 of Lim's money and deposited $212,500 from the Lims' trust account into a savings account in her father's name. De Motta was terminated in February 2005 after the bank conducted an investigation.
Perkin said even though he has not had any settlement talks with the bank, "We would obviously listen with great interest to whatever they have to say."
"It reached the point essentially (with Corneil) where the situation made him sick and they drove him out," Perkin said. "So while there are links between the two cases, they're not in any way the same case. There were other instances of the bank trying to cover up problems they were supposed to be reporting to authorities."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Johnson could not be reached for comment about the extent of any criminal investigations.